LARKMEAD: Solari 2007-2017
We recently had the opportunity to attend an industry tasting event at Union Square Cafe in New York, lead by Larkmead's winemaker Dan Petroski. The objective of this tasting was to hypothesize answers about how vines age, bottles age and how vineyard and winery inputs can impact a wine’s sensory outcome. Our role was to provide key sensory information about the wines and correlate that with the technical data on the wines.
The one common denominator I noticed was the area of alcohol percentage. I noticed the wines were beginning to show a softer, more mature profile starting with the 2014 vintage (with the exception of '11) and it seems that is also the point where the higher the alcohol level is elevated to more than 15% (again with the exception '11). This also could have been the result of the age and the narural progression, but according to Dan, when the alcohol levels decreased there was more energy in the wines, the vines and grapes were healthier and less additives were needed in the fermentation process and there was lower extraction or milder extraction, so the wines were more pure. We found this to be true as well, vintages 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2011 all showed wonderful definition and purity, setting them appart from the rest.
Grouped together below are the vintages that had similarities in style.
2011 and 2017 were both from challanging vintages, however they were both nothing short of spectacular. Showing wonderul restraint, with a brighter profile and characteristics of herbs, florals and red fruits. Considering the challenges in both vintages these were extraordinary. The 2011 is one of the finest wines I've tasted from the vintage.
Both were absolutely extraordinary. 2016 showed a bit more red fruit character, but both possessed incredible structure, definition and purity, with firmer tannins and incredible complexity, with notes of florals, loam, graphite, hints of coffee nuances. Absolutely stunning wines.
2008, 2010, 2013, 2014
Stylistically, I'd place these somewhere between '15/'16 and '09/'07. They shows wonderful full-bodied richness, with beautifully polished, well integrated tannins, yet displayed notable structure and definition. Drinking beautifully today, and should continue to do so for years to come.
2007, 2009, 2012
Tannins were very soft, plush and well-integrated. Aromatically showing a cherry/plum reduction character, with some sweeter spice notes. 2012 was starting to show signs of this as well and I can see the wine possibly headed in that direction.
2017: The 2017 Solari is an absolutely beautiful wine, elegantly structured with incredible poise and balance. Pretty aromas of red fruits, fresh flowers, herbs and hints of tobacco emerge beautifully from the glass. The palate is medium-bodied, bright, fresh and well-defined, ending with a refined, focused finish. A sensational showing in this vintage. 14.2% alc. (96)
2016: This was just stunning and probably the most impressive wine of the entire flight. It had it all, structure balance, depth, poise, just a top wine not only from the flight but from the vintage. It was beautifully nuanced with notes of red currants and blackberries followed by herbs, floral and graphite. Simply brilliant.14.5% alc. (99)
2015: Absolutely sensational and one of my favorite of the flight. It was remarkably structured with outstanding depth and complexity. Aromatically the wine was stunning, showing red and dark currants, graphite, herbs, tilled earth and espresso nuances. Palate was beautifully balanced and focused, yet it has depth and layers that ended with a gorgeous finish. This wine is a total knockout. 14.7% alc. (98)
2014: The 2014 is extremely impressive and showing wonderful. It offers stunning aromatics of blackberries, currants and crème de cassis along with graphite, floral, exotic spices and an earthy mineral character. The palate is full and well-structured with nicely polished tannins and notable overall balance ending with excellent length. This is absolutely outstanding now and also looks to have a bright future ahead. 14.9% alc. (97)
2013: The 2013 displays gorgeous aromas of red currants and cassis along with licorice, tobacco and earthy mineral nuances that emerge beautifully from the glass. The palate is full-bodied, polished and well-structured, with outstanding overall focus and depth through the long polished finish. A remarkable wine with a tremendous future ahead. 14.9% alc. (96)
2012: The 2012 is showing fabulous at this stage, as it beginning to display some nicely evolved characteristics. It opens to an inviting aromatic profile of dark cherries and crème de cassis which is laced with graphite, licorice, herbs and earthy minerals that all take shape. On the palate this is full, with round polished tannins that are soft, yet still present. Shows nice concentration and depth through the long, plush finish. (95)
2011: An excellent wine from this challenging vintage. Elegant and refined, with wonderful brightness and verve. Aromatically pleasing, offering aromas of red currants and cassis with spring florals, licorice, herbs, graphite and tobacco nuances. A stunning wine and one of the finest from the vintage. (96)
2010: Aromatically inviting, the 2010 bursts with aromas of dark cherries, crème de cassis, licorice, florals and a dusty character. The palate is full-bodied and structured with soft round tannins with a voluptuous mouthfeel that persists through the long opulent finish. This is outstanding now and should continue to drink beautifully for years to come. (95)
2009: The 2009 is showing lovely mature characteristics at this stage in its evolution. It opens to aromas of macerated dark cherries and crème de cassis with nuances of licorice and herbs. The palate is full, plush and opulent, with a ripe saturated core that displays characteristics of dark cherry reduction and sweet spices that seamlessly envelop the finish and linger effortlessly. (93)
2008: The 2008 is drinking beautifully and showing nicely evolved characteristics, offering aromas of dark cherries, plums and cassis which are joined together with herbs, dusty notes and a touch of mint. On the palate this is round and plush, with a lovely touch of underlying acidity providing nice lift through the finish. A fantastic wine that look to still have a wonderful future ahead. A standout from flight two. 92% Cabernet Sauvignon & 8% Petit Verdot. (96)
2007: The 2007 is displaying notable signs of maturity at this stage, offering aromas of macerated cherries, plums and even some blueberries laced with sweet spices, licorice and herbs. On the palate possesses a soft, round texture, with well-integrated tannins. It goes on to display flavors of sweet spices and a dark cherry reduction character that resonates through the opulent finish. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon & 10% Petit Verdot. (92)